Climate change and why I love the Economist

Some of you might have caught the recent spate of articles and claims around the emails some crackers managed to
get some a UK university, which according to some climate change opponents proves that there is an scientific conspiracy to punish the west or similar motivations at play.

Most news media covering this seems to focus on trying to fuel the flames and create more controversy as it seems to be what drives traffic to their websites, viewers to the tv shows or sells their papers. So you usually get some articles which are mostly a collection of incendiary without the journalist behind them even trying to sift through the actual material.

The Economist on the other hand does what they always tend to do, they actually go through the claims made and try to figure out to what degree they are based on fact or fiction. Thank you Economist.


#1 David Gerber on 12.03.09 at 18:32

Have a look at

The Economist is playing down what these people did. Read the original email at which shows they have serious doubts about global warming.

#2 uraeus on 12.04.09 at 12:11

@David Gerber: Reading some of those emails it seems they are just expressing what scientific discourse should express. Some healthy scepticism about their own work
and the quality of their data. This is what frustrates me with current discussion of science, is that people tend to seize upon scientific discourse and say ‘hey, you don’t seem 110% certain, which means your research is all lies and distortions”. Serious science is about trying to limit unknowns, not simplistic ‘yes’ and ‘no’ propositions.

#3 Joe Buck on 12.03.09 at 20:06

While in this case it appears that The Economist did a good job, most of their reporting is filtered through their very strong neoliberal bias: their belief that there should be no barriers preventing capital from flowing freely across borders and seeking the best return, and that more “free trade” is the answer to every question.

#4 uraeus on 12.04.09 at 12:18

@Joe Buck: What I appreciate with the Economist is that they are open about where they are coming from and they try to be well research and what I like to call intellectually honest. So I might find myself in disagreement with their conclusions on any given article, but at least I do tend to find their articles well written and informative, and without the cheap populism and even cheaper rhetorical tricks that a lot of modern media tend to engage inn.

#5 Now Skeptical on 12.03.09 at 20:53

The leaks do reveal much conspiring, but it’s not really about a “scientific conspiracy.” The researchers most likely believe in the hypothesis. (That is, in itself, a problem.)

What seems to be going on is that researchers are given more money (via government grants) the louder they scream, as long as they scream the politically convenient conclusion: anthropogenic global warming (AGW) via CO2. The leaks revealed that they’ve gotten over $22 million so far. Imagine how much that would reinforce your will to “prove” your case.

Meanwhile the prophet/profit Gore screams people down, “The science is settled!” or “All scientists agree!” which is now obviously false. Plus there’s those pesky 31,000 and growing…

We already know what the few at the top claim is the solution to this “problem” they funded (with our money): trillions in tax revenue to be spent as they see fit and further control of every human life on the planet. Fun times.

The comments on that story are also quite interesting:

#6 uraeus on 12.04.09 at 11:58

@Now Skeptical: Sorry, but if you criticize these scientists for being unprofessional or unethical you will do a better job of convincing me if you yourself use serious and unbiased arguments. First of all not believing in your own hypothesis would be stupid, the core essence of science is creating a hypothesis you believe in and trying to prove it and at the same time being open to that your own experiments or other scientists disprove that hypothesis. I agree that the need for grants is a ‘corrupting’ influence, but it works both ways. The risk of acquiring an intellectual bias towards what pays your salary isn’t less because the money comes from oil companies and similar. Just because money coming from governments is public knowledge, while private funding tending to be much more concealed (due to not being covered by freedom of information acts and similar) doesn’t make it any less influential.

And by calling Gore a prophet you show yourself at a minimum as being pretty biased and more focused on name calling than truth finding discourse. And seriously, are you really suggesting that science should be settled with internet polls? “No Galileo, the earth is not circling the sun, we have an internet poll proving it”

#7 Now Skeptical on 12.04.09 at 18:53

> you show yourself at a minimum as being pretty biased and more focused on name calling than truth finding discourse

Of course I’m biased– I have an opinion on this. It is based on listening to both supporting and dissenting views (those that Al Gore denies exist), reading the leaked documents, and a knowledge of who these people are who are pushing this so vehemently.

However I am not “focused on name calling.” I am not 12. Thanks.

prophet. n.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause.

(and of course it has religious connotations, and yes I now think AGW is little more than a religion)

And profit, because he personally profits from the proposed solution (carbon trading), not to mention Goldman Sachs et al, who sure seem to be Washington’s main concern these days.

> “money coming from governments is public knowledge”

Is it? I thought the 22.6 million CRU has received to date was only public knowledge after the leak, but I could be wrong about that.

Goldman Sachs set up a new “carbon trading market,” and now the governments of the world will force people to use it? Right…

Meanwhile, the real polluting continues. Let’s fix this world ourselves. Let’s choose to give our business to companies that respect our planet. Let’s verify those claims with independent auditors (eg. Consumer Reports).

But please, let’s not put our faith in our “leaders” (or is that rulers? since when is choosing between two sons of the world’s richest people democracy?), who have set up a nice financial scheme to get rich off our guilt, while the planet continues to suffer.

#8 Tack on 12.06.09 at 04:19 is a short and helpful summary of the leaked email “conspiracy.”